This is today’s edition of The Download, our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s happening in the tech world.
We have enough materials to power the world with renewable energy
The news: Powering the world with renewable energy will take a lot of raw materials. The good news is that when it comes to aluminum, steel and rare earth metals, there’s a lot to go around, according to a new analysis.
Greater reward: Although emissions are an inevitable side effect of extracting the materials, over the next 30 years they add up to less than a year’s worth of global fossil fuel emissions. Experts are confident that the upfront emissions costs will be more than offset by savings from clean energy technologies replacing fossil fuels.
But there is a catch: While we technically have enough of the materials we need to build renewable energy infrastructure, actually extracting and processing them can be challenging. If we don’t do it responsibly, bringing these materials into usable form could result in environmental damage or human rights violations. Read the full story.
— Casey Crownhart
Can ChatGPT do the job for me?
— Melissa Heikkila, Senior AI Reporter
There has been a lot of talk lately about whether journalists or copywriters can or should be replaced by AI. So far, newsrooms have pursued very different approaches to integrating the buzziest new tool, ChatGPT, into their work: tech news site CNET secretly used it to write articles, while BuzzFeed (more transparently) announced plans to use it to generate responses on tests.
But here’s the dirty secret of journalism: a surprising amount of it can be automated. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing if we can outsource some of the boring and repetitive parts of the job to AI. The real problems arise when you give the AI too much control. Read the full story.
Melissa’s story is from The Checkup, her weekly newsletter that gives you the inside scoop on all things AI. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Monday.
The required readings
I’ve scoured the internet to find you today’s funniest/important/scary/fascinating tech stories.
1 Elon Musk wants to turn Twitter into a fintech platform
It’s all part of his plan to look for money beyond advertising. (FT$)+ Former Twitter staff don’t know what to do with their old laptops. (with cable $)
+ The company made its first interest payment on its massive debt. (Bloomberg $)
2 Inside FTX’s shadowy PR campaigns to influence
A new dossier reveals an undisclosed network of influential political figures. (The Intercept)
+ Things are getting even messier for the collapsed crypto exchange. (NY Mag$)
+ FTX victims are still furious. (Atlantic $)
3 The US has stopped allowing companies to export to Huawei
This is just the latest in a series of China-related sanctions. (BBC)
4 The race for AI supremacy heats up
But whether American or Chinese labs will come out on top is anybody’s guess. (Economist $)
+ Generative AI changes everything. But what’s left when the ad is gone? (MIT Technology Review)
5 You don’t necessarily need a headset to enter the metaverse
Our everyday reality is getting closer to dystopia every day. (Atlantic $)
+ Kpop can help improve the image of the metaverse. (NOW $)
6 deep fake celebrity voices co-opted to spew racist hate
This unfortunately felt inevitable. (Motherboard)
+ AI voice actors sound more human than ever. (MIT Technology Review)
7 Boeing made its last 747
Once a symbol of affordable travel, it will likely find itself carrying cargo. (NYT$)
+ Hydrogen-powered planes take off in startup test flight. (MIT Technology Review)
8 Social media has a dark obsession with being #good
Is it really a good deed if you’re shooting it for clickbait? (The Keeper)
9 Spanish Speaking Live Streamers Really Hot Right Now
Twitch is booming in Latin America, creating new opportunities for gamers. (Bloomberg $)
10 Dogs love to swallow AirTags
Tracking your furry friend is not without its dangers. (WSJ$)
Quote of the day
“I can hit the red button, close my laptop and lay under my blankets for a few hours.”
— Phoebe Gavin, former executive director of talent and development at the news site Vox, reflects on the advantages of being fired via video call rather than in person to the Wall Street Journal.
The big story
A private security group regularly sent police in Minnesota disinformation about the protesters
When U.S. Marshals shot and killed a 32-year-old black man named Winston Boogie Smith Jr. in a Minneapolis parking lot on June 3, 2021, the city was already in a full-blown police crisis. George Floyd was killed by a police officer last May. As protests flared up again across the city, the cops were unable to keep up.
Into the void stepped private security groups hired primarily to prevent property damage. But the organizations often ended up managing protest activity, a task usually reserved for the police and one for which most private security guards are not trained.
One company, Conflict Resolution Group (CRG), regularly provided Minneapolis police with information about activists that was sometimes false and deeply politicized. Read the full story.
— Tate Ryan-Moseley and Sam Richards
We can still have good things
A place of comfort, entertainment and distraction in these strange times. (Got any ideas? Drop me a line or tweet them to me.)
+ This one page calendar seriously blew me away.
+ I love that the actors are rehearsing Shakespeare in the dystopian video game Fallout (thanks Will!)
+ Urgent – I need an emergency picture of a bearstatistics!
+ Can you believe these impressive plants are carved from wood?
+ Ambient tunes are huge right now and I can see why.